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Julie Paskall's 'lost' and 'shattered' family give victim impact statements

05/22/2015 05:49 EDT | Updated 05/22/2016 05:59 EDT
Family and friends of Julie Paskall, who died after being viciously attacked outside Newton Arena in Surrey, B.C. in December 2013, attended provincial court Friday to read victim impact statements and witness the sentencing of her accused killer.

Yosef Gopaul was sentenced to 12 years in prison, less 18 months for time already served, after pleading guilty to manslaughter and robbery. 

After the pleas were entered, the 28-year-old sat in the prisoner's box and listened to six victim impact statements.

Below are a few excerpts from those statements.

Husband Al Paskall

"​Julie's life was all about her children. She was always there for them. Her biggest contribution to society was when she raised three great teens.

"What's my life now? I have no life. I just exist. I'm on auto pilot. There's no runway anymore to guide me. I lived to make Julie happy. Julie's gone. I wake up every morning to go to work and ask myself, 'For what?' I live in a vacuum.

"Everything that I used to enjoy so much doesn't matter to me. I used to love everything sports-related. Now I don't care. Nothing matters. I do my very best to hold things together, but sometimes it's very overwhelming.

"The way I deal with my everyday problems has changed, and I have no patience to swallow everyday problems like traffic. I'm so quick to anger now. Since Julie's death I can't concentrate and everyday feels like I'm not here.

"I am constantly reminded of my loss. People at work who haven't seen me since she died will ask me how I'm doing. I say fine, but I'm not. I'm shattered. I cry at any time, and sometimes about nothing at all at times as well.

"I still wake up thinking she's there right beside me. I catch myself talking to her. We loved music. It was always playing in our home. Now there's so many songs I can't listen to because it's too painful to be reminded of happier times.

"I keep thinking about what happened the night Julie was attacked. I wonder what she felt, what was she thinking, was she scared? In the hospital when she was on life support, did she hear me talking to her?

"One thing that will haunt me forever is hearing Julie's mother scream, when she realized her daughter had passed away. No one should have to endure that pain.

"I keep going over the 'if onlys.' If only I'd been the one to go to the rink that night instead of her. I feel so much guilt about that. If only I had the chance to say goodbye.

"Not only did Mr. Gopaul take my wife away from me, he took my life too. Nothing will ever be the same, nothing will ever be normal again.

"Mr. Gopaul, when you attacked my wife, you took away the thread that held my family together.

"Of all the things I miss the most, is the constant companionship. For nearly four decades, Julie was my best friend. All we needed was each other. When my wife's life was taken away, I lost the better part of me. I'm only as good as I am because of her. I owe her everything.

"I would give everything I have in life for just five more minutes with her. I would tell her a thousand times how much I love her."

Daughter Rhiannon 

"My whole life I was told about the song Rhiannon and how Stevie Nix stars on stage. Finally my dream came true and I saw her perform live. Experiencing Fleetwood Mac live with mom is something to treasure forever, as it was a dream come true for both of us.

"There were no doctors or hospitals. There was just mom and I and our favourite band. We rocked out to every song, and sang all the words together. The memory of that night is with me forever, and that's all we will ever be: a memory. There will be no more rock concerts or rocking out at the house together: just memories. 

"When mom was in the hospital and I saw her lying there, it broke my heart. There was nothing I could do to help my mom — my best friend.

"As a child I had a stuffed dog named Mighty and it would always stay with me at the hospital. So when mom was laying there, so was Mighty.

"When it came to the day of her passing, I laid beside her and listened to the last of her heartbeats. There was no way I was leaving her side. I was going to be there beside her until the very end. So how has the loss of mom affected me?

"I feel so lost. I've fallen down and I'm not sure I'll get up for this one. Mom is no longer a phone call or a bus ride away. Every day since I've moved back home, I hope that I can wake up from this nightmare and mom is going be sitting outside and reading her book and drinking her tea.

"Mom is not there. When I want to see my mom and have a cup of tea, I visit her tree — her memorial tree. That's all I have left other than memories. So many adventures await me, and mom will not be there to share these milestones: when I get married, have children, and become an elementary school teacher.

"So many questions that I have left to ask, but now I have no idea what to do next in life. I keep trying to tell myself to live the life that my mom wanted me to live, but it's not the same, not having her to share it with.

"When I was born, the umbilical cord was physically cut, but I remained emotionally attached, and we were always together.

"My mom is truly my best friend in the entire world. I would give anything to have a cup of tea with her, playing a game of Scrabble, while listening to Fleetwood Mac at home."

Sister-in-law Joan Ross

"[Julie was] a woman who had always told her mother that if anyone ever tried to steal her purse, to just give it to them, stating it's not worth getting hurt over. Julie could have easily been pushed over. Julie would not have resisted anyone stealing her purse.

"How do I reconcile all this? How do I turn off those pictures and questions in my head?

"Now everyone in my inner circle of loved ones is in pain. I see it, I hear it and most of all I feel it...

"My daughter recently told me that she realized that there hasn't been a single day go by when she hasn't thought about Julie. She already suffers with an anxiety disorder, and I feel that this lessens her ability to cope even more.

"Julie was my husband's only sibling. As the older brother, he has always felt protective about her. Since her death, he has not been the same and that has impacted our lives immensely. He loses his temper a lot, sleeps a lot, and has very little interest in everything.

"He cannot go to sleep unless the TV is on and that disturbs my ability to sleep. My husband is terribly depressed and has recently agreed to see a psychologist, as well as to talk to his doctor about medication.

"His level of concentration is very poor and it is affecting his ability to do his job, and he's now at risk of losing it. At 62, it's unlikely that he'd be able to get another one, and we'd be forced to sell our home and move away from our children in order to afford living on a very limited income.

"I'd have to quit the job I love as well, since I doubt we can afford to live anywhere in the Lower Mainland. This too causes me a lot of worry and anxiety.

"My husband's level of concentration is so low that I sometimes worry about him driving. I've been in the car when he's failed to notice the lights changing — sometimes from red to green, and sometimes from green to amber to red. He often seems to be oblivious to what's going on around him.

"We've been married for almost 40 years, and he's been a wonderful father and a loving husband. He's also a decent and honest human being.

"Since Julie's death, I hardly recognize the man I married.

"We used to be each other's support and kindred spirit. He doesn't know how much I struggle with my own issues because I'm afraid to hurt him further. I can only smile and pretend everything is fine, when it most definitely is not."

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